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Mike Harris Radio Plays

Mike Harris is a scriptwriter and director. He has written and directed numerous large scale Community Plays, Theatre in Education and youth theatre. He has also written for ITV's The Bill. He teaches part-time on the MA in script-writing at Hallam University of Sheffield and has been writer-in-residence at H.M.P.'s Wakefield and New Hall, University College Cork and The Lemon Tree Arts Centre, Aberdeen. He lives in Greater Manchester and is married to the novelist and radio writer Jane Rogers.

BBC BROADCASTS


1987 *Ada, 30m
1988 *Loving Mother, 90m
1991 *Strangers in Paradise, 4 x 45m
1992 *An old-fashioned villain, 80m
1990-92 *Citizens (umpteen episodes of Radio 4 soap)
1992 *Mr. Wroe's Virgins, 120, adap. of Jane Rogers novel, R3
1993 *Dark Messiah, 80m
1996 *The Brahmin and the Lady, 90m
1998 *A few crusted characters, 45m, Hardy adap.
1999 *Beauty and the Beasts
1999-2000 *Diary of a Provincial Lady, adap, see details below.
2000 *The Bleeper Man
2001 *The trials and tribulations of Armitage Shanks- rpt. 2003
2002 *Sonya and Leo, 5 parts, R4
2004 *The Other Man, dram.
2004 *The man who mistook his life for an organiser, 45m
2005 *Dreaming in Africa
2006 *Auguste Levasseur - Chef Des Claqueurs, 45m
2008 *The Monstrous Mother, 55m
2008 *Septimus Greabe
2010 *Stevenson in Love, 2 x 45m, dram., rpt. 2012
2011 *The Disappearance of Jennifer Pope, 45m

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections.

NOTES

STRANGERS IN PARADISE ....1991
Titles:
1:God loves you, Mr. Goldberg
2:Swansong
3:Stitched Up
4:Paperchase
-all directed by Clive Brill

An interesting series of inter-related plays about predudice, self-interest, and the principles by which people live their lives. Ep. 1 sets the scene; the Jewish owner of a factory is dying in hospital. There are flashbacks to Moseley and anti-Semites, and then superimposed on this are other flashbacks about siimilar incidents involving Pakistani immigrants in the 70s. As well as drawing parallels between refugees in 1973 and the 40s, ep. 1 introduces all of the characters.

Ep. 2 is the swansong of a union leader; the brother of the guy in ep.1. . We're now a few years back in the past; it's early 70s, and Asian immigrants are being exploited by the factory where they work. There's a set of rules for whites, and another for immigrants, and the official union line is that the incomers are lucky to be in the country, let alone to have jobs. So there's no way that the union, officially, is going to help them in what it regards as minor abuses of their rights. David, the union official, differs - he reckons a principle is a principle, and you stick to it, no matter what. That's probably why his marriage has broken down....nevertheless, he goes against the party line. The episode follows what happens.....

Ep. 3 is about one of the up and coming employees in ep.2, Vijay Patel. He's from Uganda; it's 15 years later, and he's now a respected member of society and wanting to be an M.P. He's very ambitious, and is arranging marriages for his son and daughter. He's also breaking rules, unofficially, to get foreigners into the country, and using their illegal immigrant status as a lever when it suits him.... Pakistani- Bengali tensions and other differences between the Asian communities are highlighted - another interesting examination of prejudice.

Ep. 4 is about the brother of Vijay who's not so ambitious or able. He and his wife both came into England under slightly cloudy circumstances and with dubious documentation, and so far, no-one has given their paperwork close scrutiny. But they've been trying to get some young relatives into England too, for over a decade, and suddenly they are subjected to examination by the Diplomatic Service after an anonymous tip-off that they may have entered the country illegally . We have another examination of prejudice in the way the case is handled - the D.S. loses paperwork, makes them wait for weeks...the wife ends up in a psychiatric ward...and still she's questioned... ...how will it be resolved?

DARK MESSIAH ....1993
This is a rather curious play set in Kenya in the late 1920s. We are at a Mission and an unhappily married English priest and his wife are working with an a elderly spinster to convert the natives and to provide accommodation for young women who are no longer popular with their tribes because of their conversion to Christianity. The play is about the clash of cultures; the pagan rites which are still persisting and which seem barbaric to the missionary and his helpers.

The characters in this play are very well - drawn, especially the old native woman who performs genital mutilation on the young girls in the initiation season prior to their marriages*. Although much of the action centres on whether the practice should continue, the real story is the conflict between the elders of the nearby village and the unhappy and insecure representative of the Church. There is no happy ending; whenever a clash of cultures is represented like this, we should not expect one. This was broadcast as a Monday play in 1988. (*I'm not sure, but I think the practice still continues.)

THE BRAHMIN AND THE LADY....1996
A dramatisation of the events surrounding the partition of India in 1947 to 1948. It looks at the events from the point of view of the Mountbattens and and the people with whom they came into contact. By the end of the 19th century several nationalistic movements had started in India. Indian nationalism had grown as a reaction to British policies on education and the advances made by the British in India in the fields of transportation and communication. However British insensitivity to the peoples of India and their customs created great disillusionment. Eventually the end of British rule was inevitable.

14 August 1947 saw the birth of the new Islamic Republic of Pakistan. At midnight the next day India won its freedom from colonial rule, ending nearly 350 years of British presence in India. During the struggle for freedom, Gandhi had written an appeal "to every Briton" to free their possessions in Asia and Africa, especially India. The British left India are divided in two, with Pakistan as an Islamic state and India as secular.

The partition of left both India and Pakistan devastated. The process claimed many lives in riots and violence. The two countries started off with a ruined economy and without an established, experienced system of government. Gandhi was assassinated around the time of partition. Whether separating these countries was wise and whether it was done too soon is still under debate.

A few crusted characters....1998
A Watchmaker production for R4.

Beauty & the Beasts....1999
rpt. 22 Jun 01; excellent play about some decorators behaving like apes when they work in an intelligent young woman's flat. Just listen to the sound effects...and guess what she does for a living.... Friday play, 60m. With Stella Gonay, Trevor Peacock, Darren Tye. Directed by Clive Brill.

Diary of a Provincial Lady....1999
By E M Delafield, dramatised by Mike Harris's wife, Jane Rogers. The everyday 1930s journal of how to run a house, a husband, a cook, a nanny, two children, bothersome neighbours, irritating relatives, and still manage to keep your sanity and your green fingers. With Imelda Staunton, Richard Hope and Susan Brown. Director Clive Brill (15 parts).

(Mike Harris dramatised series 2 and 3)

Details: Radio 4, 1045 and 1945 hrs, 5-9 Apr 99, 12-16 Apr, 19-23 Apr. I'm told by Greg Linden the repeat began 2000.05.08 but am not sure ... my recording 8 May 00 is different to ep. 1 ser. 1 and I think it's the start of the second series. Greg has series 2 beginning 10 Sep 01 and he supplies details below:

I have five more episodes which must be from series 3.

2001.09.10 19:45
Elizabeth's modest literary achievements result in an invitation to America, but how will her husband react? With Imelda Staunton, Nicholas Le Provost, Susan Brown and Anne-Marie Duff. Directed by Clive Brill (1/10). Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.11 19:45
Elizabeth leaves for America aboard the SS Statendam. With Imelda Staunton, Nicholas Le Provost, Sonia Ritter and Mary Wimbush. Directed by Clive Brill (2/10). Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.12 19:45
Elizabeth travels to Chicago but finds her US tour is not to be as extensive as she was promised. With Imelda Staunton, Gina Landor, Jonathan Tafler and Christian Rodska. Directed by Clive Brill (3/10). Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.13 19:45
England has finally declared war on Hitler and Elizabeth hurries home to be with her family. With Imelda Staunton, Nicholas Le Provost, Helena Rice and Saskia Wickham. Directed by Clive Brill (4/10). Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.14 19:45
Elizabeth resolves to abandon health and home to make her contribution to the war effort. With Imelda Staunton, Susan Brown, Sonia Ritter and Victoria Shepherd. Directed by Clive Brill (5/10). Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.17 19:45
Elizabeth has arrived in London and is determined to find useful work in the fight against Hitler (6/10)Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.18 19:45
Elizabeth's preparations for the potential bombing campaign on London gallop on apace. Directed by Clive Brill (7/10)Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.19 19:45
Elizabeth finally gets a war job, in the underground canteen at the Adelphi Hotel (8/10)Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.20 19:45
Elizabeth meets the redoubtable Pussy Winter-Gammon, the sunbeam of the Adelphi underground. Directed by Clive Brill (9/10)Broadcast at 10.45am.

2001.09.21 19:45
After weeks of standing by, Elizabeth finally faces the prospect of real war. Directed by Clive Brill (10/10)Broadcast at 10.45am.

The Bleeper Man , by Mike Harris (R4 23 Jun 00; Friday play) was an interesting tale about a failing school and how an unusual Head recruits one of his old teachers, a loony leftie past her best and well into retirement, to help him pull it round. This play was full of surprises, and there was a good twist at the end. The oiks were well played too. The head, Pat, was Nigel Cooke, and Beth, his deputy, Alwyne Taylor. The director was Clive Brill; a Watchmaker production for R4..........VRPCC newsletter

The Trials and Tribulations of Armitage Shanks (R4,1415, 31 Jan 01) written by Mike Harris, concerns Armitage, an obnoxious advertising executive who thinks he can convince anyone to believe anything. He gets the chance to prove it; he's told to report for jury service, and his first case involves an obviously guilty young thug who has hit a pensioner over the head and run off with her money. He's even caught on video. Now..can he convince the jury that the thug is innocent? This was highly entertaining, and there was a nice twist at the end. ....VRPCC newsletter .....(a Watchmaker production for R4).

Sonya & Leo....2002
Five part series; Pacificus Productions for R4. Leo is Leo Tolstoy.

The Other Man....2004
R4, 20 Jan 04, 1415. An intensely sad and moving story by Bernard Schlink, superbly adapted for radio. After many years of marriage a man's wife dies. Shortly afterwards, a letter arrives for her from another man. Obsessed with finding out the truth, the man writes back, impersonating his dead wife. He discovers a love which he cannot understand. With Anton Lesser as the man, and Ciaran Hinds as the other man. The wife: Stella Gonet; the daughter: Lucy Robinson. Directed by Clive Brill. Pacificus Productions for R4.

The man who mistook his life for an organiser....2004
For me the best Afternoon Play for a long time has been Mike Harris's The Man Who Mistook his Life for an Organiser (R4, 1415, 16 Sep 04). It was wonderful, hilarious, clever, and as intricate as a story by P.G. Wodehouse. Nigel (good choice of name for a hero) is boring, well-organised, predictable and unremarkable. But when his electronic organiser starts to misbehave, his best friend slowly realises that the Nigel he thought he knew was an illusion. Philip Jackson was the best friend, Nicholas Murchie was Nigel, and the women were played by Emma Gregory, Rebecca Saire and Deborah Findlay. The producer was Clive Brill. (Nigel Deacon, VRPCC newsletter, Sep 2004)

DREAMING IN AFRICA....2005
R4, 12 May 05. Afternoon play. The story of Stewart Gore Brown, the only white man to receive a state funeral in a black African country, and the women he loved. With Luuie Hilyer as Gore Brown; also stars Sian Brooke, Nonso Anazie, Mathilda Ziegler, Charlie Simpson and Femi Ognus. Producer - Clive Brill.

Auguste Levasseur - Chef Des Claqueurs....2006
With Kenneth Cranham, afternoon play, R4 28 July. According to the Guardian, "it takes place in the opera houses of 1840ís Paris, [1830ís actually] where former street urchin Levasseur sent in his gang to slow hand clap or ecstatically cheer performances depending on the money and sexual favours he received from producers, librettists and singers. An operaís success and failure was thus in the hand of Levasseur"... until a rival gang shows up. Itís a Pacificus production for BBC Radio 4, produced by Clive Brill.

THE MONSTROUS MOTHER....2008
Cathy has a lurid imagination - sometimes it can get dangerously out of control. A vivid mixture of pastiche, Gothic horror, and a twist of Hitchcock. Take your seats and turn out the lights, ladies and gentlemen. Don't scream too loudly....

Cast: Jemma McKenzie-Brown, Ben Crowe, Alison Pettitt, Amanda Lawrence, Georgia Russell, Jessica Dunn, Jordan Clarke. Produced by Marc Beeby. Friday play.

SEPTIMUS GREABE....2008
13 Jun 08; by Mike Harris. This play is about Victorian hypocrisy; miserable do-gooders who create vices worse than the ones they try to repress. In the early 1800s, the Society for the Suppression of Vice, inspired by William Wilberforce, would stop at nothing to stamp out corruption and sin. The play invents a character to represent such 'forces for good': Septimus Greabe, whose target is prostitues, drunks, lechers, and others down on their luck. Stars David Troughton, Will Keen, Kellie Shirley, Paul Jesson, Nigel Cooke, Perdita Avery. Producer Clive Brill.

STEVENSON IN LOVE....2010
Two-part drama, dramatised from the writings of R.L.Stevenson. In 1876 Stevenson had met the woman who was to become his wife, FannyOsbourne. But two years later she decided to return to her husband in America and Stevenson set off with a donkey across the south-central region of France. Producer Clive Brill. Repeated 22-23 Aug 2012, R4. Cast: David Tennant as R.L.S, with Lizzy McInnerney, Matthew Marsh, Forbes Masson, Jane Slavin, Nigel Cooke, Lottie Rice, Bethane Cullinane and Ned Leadbeater. A few more details shown lower down the page.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF JENNIFER POPE....2011
30 Mar 11; Jennifer Pope, a woman of about 50, disappeared in Ecuador whilst on holiday in 2005. This play is based on the struggle of her husband and her son to track down and bring to trial those responsible for her disappearance. With Reece Dinsdale as Dave Pope, Matthew McNulty as Stefan Pope, Kate Layden as Jennifer Pope, with Oliver Miceli, David Fleeshman and Javier Marzan. Producer Pauline Harris. 45m. .... was selected for 'Pick Of The Week' ....ND

    Note from MH..... Rpt. on R4 at 14:15 on Thursday 24th Jan 2013. The play is based very closely on a true story. In 2006, Jenny Pope, a nurse, went solo back-packing in Equador, and disappeared. When the local police got nowhere, Jennyís husband Dave, and his 20 year old son Stefan, went out to find her and, against all the odds and at considerable risk to their own lives, were instrumental in bringing her killer to justice. I wrote the play in collaboration with Dave and Stefan.

THE AMATEUR EMIGRANT....2012
23 Aug (repeat): Afternoon Drama - Stevenson in Love, The Amateur Emigrant, by Mike Harris. Robert Louis Stevenson ........ David Tennant, Fanny ........ Lizzy McInnerny, Sam ........ Matthew Marsh, Irish Conductor ........ Forbes Masson, RLS Father ........ Nigel Cooke, Joshua ........ Nigel Cooke, Dutch Woman ........ Jane Slavin, Milk Woman ........ Jane Slavin, Belle ........ Lottie Rice, Nose in a Book ........ Danny Webb, Schoffelheimer ........ Danny Webb, NY Conductor ........ Chinna Wodu, Chicago Telegraph Man ........ Chinna Wodu, Ogden Conductor ........ Chinna Wodu. Producer Clive Brill. Indie. (Pacificus).





....compiled by ND / Diversity Website

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